A pilgrimage is a journey a pilgrim makes to a sacred place for the purpose of venerating it or to ask for heavenly aid, and ultimately to come to know God better. Christian pilgrimages were first made to sites connected with the birth, life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Shortly after, pilgrimages started being made to Rome and other sites associated with the Apostles, Saints and Christian martyrs, as well as places where there had been apparitions of the Virgin Mary. In the past, pilgrims would leave their homes, families, and comforts to walk for hundreds of miles with nothing but what they could carry on their backs. Just as the pilgrims from the early centuries, we modern pilgrims also leave our homes, families and comforts in order to journey to sacred places.
Along the journey, there are many sacrifices involved. There is suffering, hunger, pain, exhaustion, extreme weather conditions, crowds, etc... All of these involve self denial in order to obtain the ultimate goal and reach the final destination. Contrasting common misperceptions, suffering is not a punishment that each receives in direct proportion to his own sins but is a result of original sin and is part of the universal human experience, something we all experience in some form. Jesus Christ embraced his cross of suffering and death and so, too, should we embrace these sufferings with joy.
While journeying, a pilgrim may notice that although they are living entirely in the present, it's not the present that matters; what matters is the distant goal. The experience one has on a pilgrimage can be fantastic and deeply meaningful, or it can be completely meaningless. It is entirely up to the pilgrim. Extra graces are given to pilgrims who open their hearts to God. Pilgrims are also called to be witnesses for Christ on their journey. As a Christian and a foreign visitor, pilgrims are ambassadors for Christ and the nation of their citizenship.
A pilgrimage can also be defined as the course of life here on earth. The physical pilgrimage we take to a sacred shrine is a symbol of the spiritual pilgrimage we are on throughout our lives. Each day we have the opportunity to encounter Christ through suffering, joys, interactions with others, and through every aspect of our human experience. By taking what we have learned from our pilgrimage we can put it into practice in our daily lives and come to a better knowledge of God.This extract was taken from the website www.madrid11.com